Sunday, August 31, 2008

Return of The Monster Truck Driver

Herr Haas, photo by Allert

In anticipation of his new LP TANK U, T.Raumschmiere has released a pair of monstrous 12" singles and a new music video [below].

Animal Territory / Brenner and E / E303 are available directly from Shitkatapult, the label he co-operates with Sascha Ring a.k.a. Apparat.

T.Raumschmiere - E [2008]

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Princesse Rotative

No more politics for the rest of the weekend. I swear.

Let us introduce you to one of the most awesome bands we've come across in ages:

Princesse Rotative - Tête de Futur [2008]

Princesse Rotative [live, 2007]

Jeez, they make Knifehandchop and Otto Von Schirach look like the Backstreet Boys!
[Well, no, not really. We like the idea of a breakcore boy band led by Otto though.]

Okay, they're French? That's an automatic 10 points in my book. They're from the Digital Hardcore camp? That's another ten automatic points. Fuzzy dog mask? Ten bonus points! Bjork-like vocalist? Ten points. Being on DHR and not sounding like they're on DHR: 20 bonus points [half go to Alec Empire.] My mistake - they're not actually on DHR. Their first LP was re-released on DHR's sibling Digital Trash Records. Points still apply and can be exchanged for candy at the front desk.

Princesse Rotative is playing with two of the most exciting acts in Detroit, Marco Polio and the New Vaccines and Stevie on Monday, Sept. 8th at The Belmont.

We'll post more details on that show right here as it grows nearer.

CNN Headlines Today

Seriously. These are all just from today.
We are so fucked.

Woman found guilty of microwaving baby
Dad gets 18 months for forcing girl to kill cat
Police say heart transplant teen plotted murder
and the craziest one: Palin a pioneer, maverick -- and game-changer

That last one was a typo I think. It should actually read "staunchly anti-reproductive rights and pro-creationism, politically tyronic, lifetime NRA member who could set women's issues back decades, but will make for good television and be really great for big oil"

Here's what we're looking at:

Oh, if it does turn out that Palin is indeed a Cylon, the whole creationism thing would make sense... the only way it would make sense.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Every time someone designs a web page this bad God kills a kitten.


[thanks Andrew!]

Tigh selects Roslin



For those who aren't total Battlestar Galactica geeks, that's the Republican nominee and his new VP choice Governor Sarah Palin on the left and Colonel Saul Tigh and Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies on the right.

So far only one of the above is a confirmed Cylon...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain's new ad and Obama speech excerpt

You guys are more than aware by now that I'm not nuts about either of these fellows. Don't get me wrong - this is the best choice of nominees from both parties we've had in probably my lifetime. It's just that I think we missed a rare opportunity to go much further than this, and I'm disappointed with both candidates for tracking to the right and looking more like run-of-the-mill politicians than the "outsider" and "maverick" we were sold on. There's the glimmer of hope that both of them are just pandering to the masses until the general election and they'll be who we thought they were once they're in the White House. [Remember when GW did that? "The Uniter." Oh that was barrel of laughs, wasn't it?] I'm not betting on it.

Here's McCain's new TV spot to run tonight during DNC coverage:

What a good sport the elder senator seems to be. It's like he would pat Obama on his cute little head if he could and say, "Good boy. You've done a good job, foolishly ambitious young black man." Wow! This is the most condescending ad I've ever seen. If he meant anything he said, McCain would have given Obama a personal phone call, not run such a condescending spot on national television... on the evening Obama's acceptance speech no less. Is this what transparency in politics means? I know when I'm being talked down to, and that's exactly what's going on here.

Speaking of Obama's acceptance speech, Brand O™ released a rather lengthy exceprt earlier tonight. You can read it here.

He really hooked me with, "That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President."

Yes! Finally a solid definition! And then... it kinda rambles into a lot of the same old stuff... with a few notable surprises which border on science fiction: "...find ways to safely harness nuclear power..." [Please tell me more - I'm intrigued about your new science.] And this: "I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East." Wow. Good luck with that.

The only thing that will end our dependence on oil from the Middle East is when it all dries up, which is not a whole lot longer than Obama's goal. I'm disappointed that the candidates aren't talking about getting off this rock and thinking about the resources in our solar system. That's far less sci-fi that what either of them are saying. We will exploit all of the natural resources on earth within this century because nobody wants to talk about the fact that overpopulation is the single biggest problem facing humanity, for stupid religious and political reasons.

I don't mean to be a dick and pick on the guy I'm probably going to vote for. There are some absolutely brilliant parts of the speech. Here's my favorite:

"I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

That's what I most want to hear and see happen. McCain's not saying anything like that, and that's why I'm probably voting for Obama.

update: The delivery of the speech was authoratative and strong and unflinching on liberal ideals. That's what he needed to do and he did it well.

There's always room for [more] Jello

Waiting for the first Generation X nominee

The Dems played Love Train last night at the convention. Slightly less cringe inducing than Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow I suppose. I'm anxious to hear what they'll play for the first Generation X nominee. This'd be my choice:

Dead Kennedys - Nazi Punks Fuck Off [live at the Brixton Academy, 1982]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meeting the Walrus

I Met the Walrus is an extraordinary infographic style animated short based on an interview with John Lennon conducted by a 14-year-old fan who snuck into his Toronto hotel room in 1969.

the film was nominated for "Best Animated Short" at the 2008 Academy Awards.

[via Information Aesthetics]

Monday, August 25, 2008

Toward the Mohorovicic Discontinuity

How the Soviets Drilled the Deepest Hole in the World

[Spoiler: 15 years and 40,226 feet later, no mantle. Impressive hole though.]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

NIN+APTBS bullet point review

• It was extraordinary to see a band pack an arena with zero involvement from a label or Clear Channel. 100% DIY. Loved that.
• Both bands were phenomenal. A Place to Bury Strangers was even better than expected.
• It could have been louder. Ears not still ringing like they should be.
• The suburban stadium experience was totally painless. Traffic was easy, the staff was very polite... weird.
• Signing a "mosh pit waiver" was funny. FTW?
• Surprisingly broad age range in attendance. Didn't feel like the oldest or the youngest there for once.
• I broke my glasses. it wouldn't be a NIN show if I didn't break my glasses.
• I still get the weepy eye every time Trent performs Hurt. I'm so emo.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

meanwhile, back at the B'lab: getting our goth on and going to show

We're going to see A Place to Bury Strangers and Nine Inch Nails tonight at a sports arena in the most miserable excuse for a suburb ever... but we're psyched. I haven't seen NIN live or been to an arena show since the love-fest at Madison Square Garden back in 2000 with J. Klett.

I'm going to forget all about the $8 cups of crappy beer, traffic debacles, Gestapo security and shitty acoustics that have kept me away from arena shows for nearly a decade. Dethany, D. Blunk II and I have prime main floor tickets are going to dance like it's 1990!

A Place to Bury Strangers - I've Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart [2007, live in NYC]

Nine Inch Nails - Get Down Make Love [1990, live in Dallas]

[By the way, since Lynchy had to cancel due to an 800beloved show in K-zoo, we have an extra ticket. Call my cell if you want it for free!]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coolest cycling jersey ever?

Bauhas long sleeve jersey

Reformat The Planet on Pitchfork TV

Pitchfork discover 8-bit, posts Reformat The Planet for your viewing pleasure. Very nice.

+ here's my pocket camera clip of COVOX at the Blip Festival:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cosmos vs. The Matrix


The Vangelis toward the end totally makes it.

[via Uncertain Times. By the way John, how do you have time to post so much awesomeness? You're a freelancer, aren't you?]

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Surrealist Scavenger Hunt

Ms. Toybreaker and I are getting the Neo-Dadaists Society Art Crimes Divison back together for the third installment of our ongoing "appropriate acts in inappropriate places" series.

You surely all recall the Mad Tea Party at Fisher Body 21 and the Edwardian Croquet Social at the Packard Plant. This third part of the performance triptych will be our most complex and dangerous to date. [If it's not dangerous, why bother?]

We know that we can't compete with the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, but I do think we can certainly out-weird them.

Oh, right... the point of this post was to fish for ideas. If you have anything brilliant and clever for the master list, please use the comment button below. Thanks!

Bene vs. Bargeld

I'm back on a Italian Futurism research kick, and came across this wonderful clip of Italian theatre's enfant terrible Carmelo Bene reading from [as best I can decipher is] Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto. I readily admit that I don't speak Italian and was not aware of Bene until tonight. Nonetheless, this is a wonderful clip and I've added yet another hero to my ever-growing list of iconoclastic artists.

Eccentric and gifted, Bene was undoubtedly the greatest guitto (barnstormer) of the contemporary Italian stage - a term that he relished. He succeeded in parodying the Italian histrionic acting tradition, as well as being its apotheosis. In the theatre his model was Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty, while the moderns he respected most in literature and painting were Joyce and Francis Bacon. In the cinema he had little sympathy for film-making after Buster Keaton and Eisenstein, though he once confessed to liking Godard's Pierrot Le Fou.

update: Jessica informs us in the comments that this is actually Marinetti's Contro Venezia Passatista, a manifesto which was thrown from the bell tower in Piazza San Marco in 1910 on leaflets. A rough translation here.

Carmelo Bene - Futurismo

There's something about Bene's delivery here that reminds me strongly of Blixa Bargeld. I have to imagine that Bargeld [being the cultured gent he is, and being a scholar of Futurism,] is very familiar with the previous performance. I thought it would be interesting to compare Bene's monolgue with one of Bargled's Hornbach ads [and of course - we've probably posted this here a half dozen times already, and it's just another excuse to post again about one of the greatest iconoclasts of our time and one of my biggest personal artistic influences.]

Anecdote of the day

During World War II Picasso suffered some harassment from the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied Paris. An inquisitive German officer, coming into his apartment, noticed a photograph of Guernica lying on a table. "Did you do that?" he asked Picasso.

"No, you did," said Picasso.


Friday, August 15, 2008

New Yorker's Map of America

[This might actually the most accurate map of the US I've ever seen...]

[I'm kidding. Maybe.]

Coraline sneak-peek

Rotten Tomatoes is posting a new behind-the-scenes video every week of Henry Selick's [The Nightmare Before Christmas] stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman's [Sandman, Neverwhere] book Coraline. There are four clips up sp far. The video quality is quite exceptional [read: bandwidth hungry.]

[via Neil Gaiman's Journal]

If you haven't yet, also see the official teaser trailer:

DJ Spooky Interview

If you missed Paul D. Miller's performance of Rebirth of a Nation and discussion last night at the DIA [which was phenomenal by the way,] here's a recent interview in which he talks about everything from remixing a propaganda film and memory theory, open source culture, what kind of DJ he isn't, Amine and contemporary politics... the usual stuff that makes Miller one of the last great cyberpunks:

Severin, Severin...

I may have posted this here before, but what the heck. I think DeVotchKa's version of the oft-covered Velvet Underground classic is by far the most interesting. It's an off-kilter and amped-up Eastern European folk meets American Gothic romp. Nick Urata seems to be channeling David Eugene Edwards of 16 Horsepower in the vocal delivery - sans the creepy wild-eyed gaze.

DeVotchKa - Venus In Furs [live, 2006]

Also: the original VU version and 16 Horsepower's Black Soul Choir, directed by the Brothers Quay

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Last minute: DTM at Exodus in Detroit tonight

If you're heading down to the DIA to see Mr. Paul D. Miller tonight, afterwards head over to Exodus to see our friends from the Detroit Techno Militia. [I'm sure Darkcube will have some tales of ill repute from DEFCON to share. As I've said, "'tis far better to have friends at DEFCON than enemies."]

Thursday. August 14. 2008. Bang Tech 12 presents:
Detroit Techno Militia 5x5 at Exodos

5 DJs on 5 Turntables. Featuring:
DJ Seoul
Dan Lucas
Neil V.

Exodos: 523 Monroe, Greektown Detroit, above the Golden Fleece
10PM-2AM | 18+ |$5

Discover Kymaerica review

I wish I was in Edinburgh. Here's a really good review from Metro:

In his own modest way, Eames Demetrios is probably the most ridiculously ambitious man you will ever meet, having devoted the last five years of his life to the dissemination of Kymaerica, his complete alternative mythology of our planet.

This parallel Earth is loosely based on Demetrios's scouring the world for intriguing but insignificant objects - ruined shacks, dirt tracks that go nowhere, unusual discolorations on walls - and assigning meaning, recasting them as sites of great battles or gateways between dimensions.

Discover Kymaerica is a PowerPoint presentation and it's most certainly not for everyone: Demetrios hurtles through a series of invented facts and stories at such a pace that you'll inevitably lose the thread on several occasions.

But give yourself over to it and it's an inspiring, entertaining hour - Demetrios gives you license to dip in and out of the presentation's flow by providing equipment to sketch your own version of Kymaerica's populace of undead lawyers, indestructible war kangaroos and creatures without metabolisms. Effectively it's myth-creation as an art experiment, and it's as art rather than a piece of theatre that this show is best understood and appreciated.

If you've ever seen David Lynch being interviewed you'll have a sense of what Demetrios's earnest delivery is like. Like Lynch, he's generous in allowing your imagination to shape his worlds. Nobody's asking you to live in Kymaerica, but it's a fascinating place to visit.

DJ Spooky tonight at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Rebirth of a Nation

From the DIA website:

Conceptual artist Paul D. Miller, AKA DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, draws on his celebrated skills as a writer, musician, club DJ, philosopher, and social critic to create a multimedia performance that examines mythmaking and propaganda. Rebirth of a Nation is a video remix of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation, hailed for its use of pioneering editing techniques and reviled for its racist depiction of African-Americans and distorted account of American history. Through Rebirth of a Nation, Miller offers a twenty-first century response to Griffith’s film that questions the fragmented perceptions that make up our complex history. Working in the motif of “DJ as director,” the artist cuts and pastes celluloid sequences “live” to create a new experience. The accompanying soundtrack is a mix of Miller’s electronic compositions, including a score recorded by the acclaimed string ensemble Kronos Quartet. The performance will be followed by a moderated discussion with the artist.


Eamespunk Prosthetic Leg

Eames-inspired Prosthetic Leg by Joanna Hawley

Eamespunk prosthetic leg

Yeah, Eamespunk is now a movement. Brilliant.

Prosthetics generally lack humanity, style and grace. Often, they look much like landing gear and make the wearer uncomfortable, self aware, and sometimes depressed. By channeling the Eames' use materials and iconic style, we designed a leg with Steve McQueen in mind. We sought to convey a creative use of positive and negative space, a balance of materials and a reflection of the wearer.

This project taught me to expand my use of research materials. We interviewed several amputees in varying stages of acceptance, met with Sephora color specialists to discuss skin tones, and 3D laser scanned actual legs to translate the proportions of the human body into CAD. Through a wide range of techniques, I explored the challenge of designing something with the body in mind.

Eamespunk prosthetic leg

[thanks Bruce S!]

Gary Panter at Illustration Art

SV4 sent us this wonderful article: GARY PANTER: CHER IN JOHNNY ROTTEN'S CLOTHING?

You probably know Panter as creator of Jimbo, "a post-nuclear punk-rock cartoon character" who first appeared in the LA hardcore-punk paper Slash and later in RAW and as the designer of Pee-Wee's Playhouse. The comaprisons to Piero Manzoni and Johnny Rotten are priceless.

+ also see Gary Panter blog

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Double-Taker (Snout)

Golan's newest project makes me smile. What would Jim Henson do with an industrial robot and 3D blob tracking? Something like this:

"Oh, hello there!"

Custom software. Read about it here.

The man and his googly-eyed robot.

I think a lot of people think of Golan Levin primarily as a "technology artist", which I don't totally agree with. His real talent - the magic in his work - is the ideas. There's a whimsical genius there that the best programmers in the world can't even begin to comprehend. He also happens to be highly skilled at applying and inventing new technologies to create the experiences in his head. Without hyperbole, I really think he's one of the this century's greatest artists... at least one of the "most 21st century artists" working today.

postscript: While I was writing this post, Andrew informed me that Boing Boing already got to it. Dammit! I like to be first! Burnlab is supposed to be where the cool sites go to get real dirt... [It would have been up faster if I wasn't making a real concerted effort to not blog while I'm supposed to be working. Hey, a lot of times I'm working when I'm supposed to be blogging. It all balances out.]

Synthesizers and Hot Air: Supreme Balloon gets Dissected

Matmos' newest venture is devoid of their trademark sampling of found sounds. Supreme Balloon was made using only analog synthesizers, homemade MAX/MSP patches, and smattering of MIDI notes.

Click here for the entire breakdown of every song and descriptions of every piece of gear, program, and process used to create each sound found on this album.

Far Too Much Information about Supreme Balloon:

What follows are some pointers and backstory about the songs on the new Matmos album "Supreme Balloon". When there are no editors in sight this sort of thing can easily go on for far too long so please proceed with caution, especially if you are squeamish about gear porn and namedropping. As Matmos albums go, this one is not about strenuous conceptual gymnastics but the simple enjoyment of traditional synthetic cuisine served in an informal atmosphere.

Side Note: I am disappointed that I had to miss Drew Daniel's reading of his new 33 and 1/3 book on Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats. There was even a Throbbing Gristle happy hour at the bar down the street from Red Emma's in Baltimore where the reading took place.

The Orwell Diaries

Not content with the blogs of fictional characters and non-linear alternate realities? Try on Geoerge Orwell's diary... as a blog.

[via Nevolution]

Picture of the Day

Little Matterhorn, 1858-1877
Adolphe Braun - Little Matterhorn, 1858-1877

I found the above photo in my mail this morning. How awesome are those people?
This is from an exhibition titled Infinite Ice at the Albertina in Vienna.

I blame Warren Ellis.

Nine Inch Snails

from Muppets Tonight [1997]


In the Flat Field

Bauhaus - In the Flat Field [live, 1980]


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Music to Play Really Loud

The Reflecting Skin
The Reflecting Skin

Our good friend Jakub posted four songs for big systems over at ISO50. If you don't have Pink Floyd's sound rig in your house, a good set of headphones will pass. There are classic Slowdive and The Verve cuts, a monster Reflecting Skin track and a new M83 edit well worth checking out.

Colin Chillag

The artwork of Colin Chillag



Victoria Reynolds

The artwork of Victoria Reynolds

Lickety Split, 2003, 14.5 x 12.5 Inches, oil on panel

Flight of the Reindeer, 2003, 32 x 43.75 Inches, oil on panel

You may recognize her work form Meatpaper issue one.
[via The Flog]

$1,000 iPhone app

Apple removes $1,000 featureless iPhone application

I think this was a brilliant piece of art and social commentary.
People need to get a sense of humor.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Year Zero coming to HBO?

Trent Reznor has been in talks with HBO about turning his 2007 concept album and alternate reality game Year Zero into a two season maxi-series.

Nine Inch Nails - Survivalism [2007]

"It's the most exciting thing on the horizon; it's the thing that when I wake up in the morning it makes me say, 'God it would be cool if that happened,' " Reznor said while sitting backstage before a Nails concert in Toronto.

"So it started with me trying to write it as a piece of fiction. ... I started by writing a kind of world bible about what life would be like around 15 or 20 years from now if things continue on the same path. I spent a few weeks filling it in with the events that could lead to this kind of time and place. Then, as an experiment, I started writing songs about people in this place and from different points of view.

"I just pitched it to HBO two weeks ago in L.A. It went great. Ideally, we're trying to get them to do a two-year limited series. I prefer that over a film. We would have a second ARG tying into the second album and ... the series, and they all happen together with a budget needed to pull that all off. There would be a tour down the road. The record completes the story, the ending that no one knows. I know what happens. I knew when I started it. And it's not what people think."

The Year Zero album and alternate reality game provided fragmented windows on a much larger narrative set in a near-future dystopian America ruled by a totalitarian Christian regime, with the deliberate intention of showing a possible future reality if the current sociopolitical path in this country continues. Both the songs on the LP and the puzzle-like game offer non-linear perspectives from a variety of characters... a first for Reznor, who until Year Zero wrote only from the first person perspective.

Eames Demetrios - Road to Edinburgh (pt 10)

The non-traditional storytelling method makes me think of Eames Demetrios' Kymaerica - a fictional alternate universe which is being slowly exposed in fragments over a wide variety of media. Eames explained to me that Kymaerica began as a story he told to his children. The important thing is that it isn't merely a Tolkenish alternate universe. It is about looking at the world around you from a different perspective - from the wide-eyed and untainted perspective of a child's imagination. Not only do Demetrios and Reznor want you to look at your own world in a different light, but brilliantly utilize every media at their disposal to tell their story.

If everything goes as planned,Year Zero will be an groundbreaking and exceptional experiment in storytelling... and that's what I'm really interested in.

""We see the stadium as a type of Trojan horse..."

Jacques Herzog

Jacques Herzog, the man behind the new Olympic Stadium in Beijing speaks with SPIEGEL on design ethics, politics and subversion. Some choice quotes:

"For us, this stadium is more than just a building. It's a part of a city. Vision is always such a big word, but our vision was to create a public space, a space for the public, where social life is possible, where something can happen, something that can, quite deliberately, be subversive or -- at least -- not easy to control or keep track of.

"We see the stadium as a type of Trojan horse. We fulfilled the spatial program we were given, but interpreted it in such a way that it can be used in different ways along it perimeters. As a result, we made everyday meeting places possible in locations that are not easily monitored.

"In the last few years, in particular, we have experienced the emergence of a new generation of artists, architects and intellectuals, and they have the ability to change the society in a lasting way. Playing a role in shaping this new era is far more interesting and probably even more moral than taking part in a boycott from one's desk. We aren't just referring to architects in this regard, but also to other creative figures. Steven Spielberg agreed early on to be the artistic advisor for the opening ceremony, and then he withdrew, essentially at the last minute, because the regime was no longer to his liking...

"It just smells like cheap propaganda, first agreeing to take part in this sort of event and then cancelling for a current political reason that was predictable. China has not become less democratic and does not respect human rights less than it did before. China is still a long way from what we in the West expect, but the establishment of a broad, new intellectual class is a hopeful sign of change.

"No one can approve of the miserable conditions under which people work there. It isn't just the migrant workers, but the entire factory system in China, which produces jeans, shirts and toys for the world, that works under such conditions. It is not within our power to change the conditions for migrant workers, nor is it our responsibility. We have nothing to do with the organization of the construction site, neither in China nor any place else in the world. The architect is increasingly unwelcome on the construction site, because he is simply in the way there and tries to interfere and change things.

"It would be far too easy to say: Well, of course we would never build in North Korea. Before we accept a commission, we ask ourselves whether we can achieve something that goes beyond the commercial. Our strength is to develop buildings that permit contradictions. We refuse to take part in projects that permit only one use, one form of interpretation, perhaps even an ideological interpretation. No one in Beijing asked us to deliver an ideological building."

[via Archinect]

How To Make the Olympics More Interesting

Sorry - watching people do the exact same thing at a nearly indistinguishable level of performance is just not that exciting to me, even if they are the very best in the world. Some of the drama and spectacle of the opening ceremonies and architecture should be integrated into the competitions. I'm thinking elk antlers, garage-fabbed prosthetics, pneumatic latex headdresses, thousands and thousands of gallons of honey... that sort of thing. Why not have Matthew Barney outfit the US team, David Cronenberg the Canadian team and so forth? That would be some great television!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

KLF Appreciation Week

Timelords - Doctorin' The Tardis [1991]

As a follow-up to Toybreaker's post about "The Manual", SV4 sent us this great BBC program about The K Foundation burning a million quid.

JAMs - It's Grim Up North [1991]

I have a keen fascination with and appreciation for creatives who tread the line between artistic agendas and popular culture - especially those who infiltrate pop culture to parody it. Artists are supposed to hold a mirror to culture, and sleeping with the enemy is sometimes the best way to render an accurate reflection. [I've always been too adversarial with the mainstream by nature to get on the inside long enough to really do proper damage before running out to shower. On a small scale, we were there with Dorkwave for a hot minute...]

KLF - White Room film promo [1991]

When KLF first arrived in the United Sates on Wax Trax! Records, they were clearly not just another techno band. I don't think anyone really knew what to make of them at the time, but it was something different and exciting. It was however a hot minute, and to be honest, I didn't keep up with Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty's activities much after their retirement from the music industry in 1992. They did go out in a smashing way:

On 12 February 1992, The KLF and crust punk group Extreme Noise Terror performed a live version of "3 a.m. Eternal" at the BRIT Awards, the British Phonographic Industry's annual awards show; a "violently antagonistic performance" in front of "a stunned music-business audience". Drummond and Cauty had planned to throw buckets of sheep's blood over the audience, but were prevented from doing so due to opposition from BBC lawyers and "hardcore vegans" Extreme Noise Terror. The performance was instead garnished by a limping, kilted, cigar-chomping Drummond firing blanks from an automatic weapon over the heads of the crowd. As the band left the stage, The KLF's promoter and narrator Scott Piering announced over the PA system that "The KLF have now left the music business". Later in the evening the band dumped a dead sheep with the message "I died for ewe—bon appetit" tied around its waist at the entrance to one of the post-ceremony parties.

KLF vs ENT - 3 a.m. Eternal, live at the BRIT Awards [1992]

That certainly wasn't the end, and despite getting next to zero press on this side of the pond after that point, Drummond and Cauty remained active. They played the media better than anyone [clearly the likes of Damien Hirst, Fischerpooner and Justice were taking notes,] but Drummond and Cauty were truly tortured artists who couldn't escape their success - even by burning all their money.

They established the K Foundation in 1993, focusing on Situationist-inspired art projects. The K Foundation's first major stunt was awarding £40,000 to Rachel Whiteread [who's actually one of my favorite artists] for being "worst artist of the year"; not coincidentally on the same evening she won the 2004 Turner Prize - Britain's highest honor for young artists, which happened to come with exactly half the prize money of the K Foundation Award.

They next attempted to exhibit £1M cash nailed to a board, but no major gallery would take them up on it. On August 23rd of 1994, Drummond and Cauty incinerated £1M in crisp £50 notes on a Scottish island - the bulk of the funds left in KLF's account. Almost half of the £6M the pair had made went to taxes and the rest financed elaborate productions.
Initially The KLF's earnings were to be distributed by way of a fund for struggling artists managed by the K Foundation, Drummond and Cauty's new post-KLF art project, but, said Drummond, "We realised that struggling artists are meant to struggle, that's the whole point." Instead the duo decided to create art with the money.

The project, K Foundation Burn a Million Quid was documented in a film and a book. A single brick was made from the ashes. The act of burning remains their most brazen and baffling performance to many. Neither Drummond or Cauty have been able to explain exactly why they did it.

Despite the KLF's official retirement and a 23 year moratorium on K Foundation activities, the pair returned in 1997 with Fuck the Millennium: a new record, multimedia campaign and stage spectacle under the project name 2K. Drummond and Cauty dressed as elderly men in motorized wheelchairs wearing their iconic horns. The mock comeback was an attempt to once and for all bury the mythology of the KLF. Bill Drummond released his memoir in 2000, in which he recounts, "The show was a success, the record stiffing at number twenty-eight in the charts was just what the doctor ordered. We had not only blown it, we had destroyed whatever remnants of credibility, bankability and myth we had left."

2K - Live at the Barbican [1997]

Jimmy Cauty has since recorded with former collaborators Alex Paterson and Guy Pratt as Transit Kings and has exhibited at the The Aquarium L-13 gallery in London, including Blackoff - an installation/"terror aware" gift shop. [I want to note for the record that Jon Ozias had a very similar idea two years prior.] Bill Drummond has authored several books and helped establish The Foundry, an arts center London. A thorough discography can be found at KLF Communications dot net and a comprehensive archive of videos here.

As a side note, I think the biggest mistake they ever made was not releasing The Black Room. Drummond said of the project:
Z asks about the Black Room album that me and Jimmy as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu started but were too afraid to complete. I tell him how, when I was standing in the twilight of the recording booth, the microphone in front of me, Jimmy's magnificent metal guitar riffs roaring in my headphones, a voice came out of me which I had never heard before, words flowed that I had never written and a precipice appeared before me. I crept forward and looked over the edge: the abyss. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu's LP, The Black Room, was never finished.

The Hoodlum Scientist's Fieldbook

I meant to post this one last week as a follow-up to the J.G. Ballard interview: Dr. Robert Vaughan's blog

More on this project here.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I was just thinking it would be interesting to open a Twitter account to post only 800beloved lyrics, but pretend they're random thoughts.
It might look this:

Just another sleepover at the morgue...
about 2 hours ago from web

@cyberoptix Let's kill everyone we know and make out in our bloody clothes.
about 2 hours ago from web

never never never never never never never never never.
about 4 hours ago from web

When your tongue grows numb of all those little white lies, tie it to a kiss.
about 7 hours ago from web

We'll show them evil.
about 18 hours ago from web

I'll show you where the flowers never grow.
about 18 hours ago from web

This may hurt, but you won't feel a thing.
about 19 hours ago from web

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Letter From Dethlab

The executive editors of this blog [that would be Ms. Toybreaker and myself,] have a little art project/alter ego that manifests itself in the occasional multimedia exhibition, diatribe and period costumed adventure, but most often in playing records we really like. Dethlab has two upcoming events they... er, we would like to share with you.

We've been hanging fairly low since Too Far Gone/No Way Back at the Cyberoptix studio during the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, playing a few shows here and there, but mostly stepping over the stinking corpse of club culture in order to plot our next assault on the art world and tending to our roots in Detroit's DIY subcultural underbelly.

We have two unusual events coming up in October that we're super excited about:

First, we will be participating in the Broadcast exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit as part of an installation by controversial Brooklyn-based artist Gregory Green. Dethlab will be broadcasting from MOCAD all day [11AM to 8PM] on Saturday, Oct. 11th. The nine hour program will include conversations with artists, science fiction authors and leaders of the creative community, as well as in-depth music features, readings and some special surprises.

Secondly, we will be participating in the legendary Theatre Bizarre Halloween Party this year, presenting The Devil's Disco on Saturday, Oct. 25th. Theatre Bizarre is one of those truly unique and wonderful Detroit experiences you just wouldn't believe if you didn't see it for yourself. It's like Burning Man, but without all the stupid hippies and a lot more blood and gasoline. We're very flattered to have been invited to take part in both events.

We will post more details on both Broadcast and Theatre Bizarre when we have them.

love and bats,
-Mike and Dethany

The justified ancients of Mu Mu reveal their zenarchistic method used in making the unthinkable happen

T H E__M A N U A L

Other than achieving a Number One hit single we offer you nothing else. There will be no endless wealth. Fame will flicker and fade and sex will still be a problem...


Twine have released a new video for Endormie, form their latest LP Violets on Ghostly International. The haunting vox courtesy of Cranes vocalist Alison Shaw.

Twine - Endormie [2008]

Though it could be described as "pretty" at times, Violets is anything but easy listening music. The album shares certain themes with ADULT.'s body of work, centering around feelings of detachment and anxiety in a world gone totally strange. But while ADULT. have come to face their demons [internal and external] head-on, Violets keeps most of it's dread just below the surface of the waters, making it potentially that much more unsettling. The album is best enjoyed if you close your eyes and allow it take you on a sonic journey into deep, dark corners of the subconscious. Listener experience may vary depending on what lurks there.

from Ghostly:

Violets is a requiem for the new dark age. A memoir of a dying era, defined by the years of an inevitably dichotomized and isolated nation. On their long-awaited fourth full length, the duo of Greg Malcolm and Chad Mossholder move from the muggy backwoods of their early work towards the sonic approximation of icy remoteness. Created by a process of long distance file-sharing, the layers of Violets mesh together in a synchronous and fragile splendor, melding disembodied vocals, guitar rattles and crispy unpredictability to create a modern classic. The recurring theme of Violets is indeed a fascination with the human voice – voyeuristic telephone and CB conversations, the musings of a girl on dictaphone, crowd noises from anti-war rallies – these elements hover just beneath the lush and temperamental musical surface.

somewhat related:

Cranes - Starblood [1991]

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Packard

Here are a couple more shots from the Packard croquet social I hadn't looked at in years:



[We need to get the Neo Dadaists Society back together and do something like this again soon!]

What Would Don Draper Do?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

since we're on the subject...

packard adjusted

This is not steampunk. You are certainly looking at a bunch of punks, but the clothes are clearly not Victorian in style and there are no fantastic contraptions in sight. This is just what we do to amuse ourselves in Detroit, and if you're going to play croquet in an abandoned Edwardian era factory, you had better damn well dress the part.

update: The authority on the matter says this is steampunk. Who am I are to argue? Also: Boinged. [Three years too far ahead for our own good apparently.]

Sturgeon's Law follow-up

As a follow up to the "Ninety percent of everything is crap" post, here are two extreme illustrations in relation to steampunk:

Doing it right: The Sultan's Elephant
This still leaves me breathless. So well thought out, executed and amazing on every level. This spectacle may have been responsible for giving the existing groundswell its push into the mainstream. Just a couple other really good examples are the Wonderland Expedition Kit [okay, not really "steamy" in any way, but still awesome,] the work of Alex CF and of course the films of Jean Jeunet, especially City of Lost Children. The French have always had a special knack for this sort of wickedly surreal imagination and attention to detail.

Doing it wrong: Steampunk Watch
For the last time, sticking random brass gears on something DOES NOT make it steampunk. You may as well glue some glitter to it and call it "Enchanted Fairy Watch". Fail. [I could come up with eight other examples like this to make the point, but I'll spare you.]

800beloved video

Go is the first music video from 800beloved's upcoming LP Bouqet.
Anton Corbijn would be proud.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Martin Dupont: Lost and Late

Our good friends at Minimal Wave have done it again [and by "it", I mean educating us about amazing music we never heard of but should have]: this time re-releasing rare selections from legendary French New Wave act Martin Dupont.
From Veronica:

Originally from Marseilles, Martin Dupont formed in 1981 and went on to release a single, a cassette, several albums, and played several live shows, supporting Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Lotus Eaters. Martin Dupont were new wave, dreamy electro, and coldwave yet completely accessible. The release, entitled 'Lost And Late' brings you selected cassette tracks from the Inédits 81-83, the Your Passion 7" and the original version of 'Just Because' as it appeared on the Just Because LP. The release is a limited edition pressed on 180 gram vinyl, accompanied by an insert printed with old band photographs by Michel Bresson. Huge thanks to Lorenzo Mattotti for the beautiful cover painting.

Lost and Late will be available through Minimal Wave dot org later this month [complete with one of the hottest record covers we've seen in a while.]

Martin Dupont - Just Because [1984]

[By the way, I'm finally getting the swing of blockquotes. Welcome to the '90s for me! Hey... despite how much time I spend in front of a keyboard, I'm a die-hard pen an paper kind of guy. Many thanks to Emilie at Core77 for the syntax smackdown.]

Making Faces


Stern is a gorgeous new font from Rimmer Type Foundry which can be purchaed in digital format for about $50 or real deal feel-it-in-your-hands metal type for a mere $80. [The perfect gift for that type fetishist in your life.]

trailer for Making Faces, a documentary on cutting metal type

[via I Love Typography]

Oil Addiction

Another quality educational film from GOOD Magazine.

Vector Rover

12-TET Rover

This is wild.

Meet the 12-TET Rover. What The New York Times once described as a “shape-changing jungle gym” is, in fact, one of NASA's future extraterrestrial explorers, designed to carry out its mission without much guidance from earth-bound ground controllers. This autonomy is enabled, in part, by its skeletal frame — 26 extendable metal rods forming 12 tetrahedrons, hence the name — which allows the rover to “reconfigure itself into almost any shape” and thus adapt to terrains and situations that scientists have not foreseen...

Read on at Pruned + more pictures

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Detroit, the American Torino

Detroit is in Metropolis Magazine again, but this time it isn't a Chilean-born MacArthur Foundation winnier calling it an "American acropolis." Former resident Kristin Palm cheers how the city embraces its grit in "intriguing ways."

I'd quote some bits here, but it's always better to read with Bruce Sterling's commentary.

By the way, Dethany and I will be doing an entire day of radio programming from MOCAD this autumn as part of an upcoming exhibit. We're super excited to break out of the tired and restrictive bar/club scene and see what we can do with nine hours of air time in an art museum. Not that we don't have fun playing dance music, but this is a great opportunity stretch our legs a bit and see how deeply we can explore the Dethlab concept. We might even read from Crash. Actually, that's almost a given...

A love letter to alternative culture: Coilhouse goes to press

Our favorite blog will finally be a pulp and ink magazine in a few short weeks. Check out the making of issue #1.

[If the Coilhouse crew is reading this, Dethany and I will be back in LA the third weekend of September. If you can hold off your launch party until then it'd be much appreciated!]

The Perfect Human

Recently remembered: The 1967 classic film by Danish filmmaker and poet Jørgen Leth. The Perfect Human was featured as part of the 2003 film The Five Obstructions by Lars von Trier, but I had forgotten how utterly brilliant it was until stumbling upon it on the YouTubes. Enjoy!

Part 1

Part II

"Ninety percent of everything is crap."

[Some of you already know the origins of this statement, and some of you were smart enough to click on the link in the previous post. Nonetheless, you've all heard it before + it's a good story and something I believe in strongly, so it gets it's own entry.]

Influential science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon [so much so that Kurt Vonnegut based his character Kilgore Trout on him] penned many familiar quotes, such as "nothing is always absolutely so," "ask the next question" and "live long and prosper."

“Ninety percent of everything is crap" became his most famous quote and is often cited as Sturgeon's Law. The exact date and phrasing is up for debate, but the point is that he said it, and it's a timeless, borderless and genreless truth. The author first used the phrase in the context of the mechanics of criticism:

He made his original remarks in direct response to attacks against science fiction that used “the worst examples of the field for ammunition”. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crud is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms do.

I find this appropriate to keep in mind when reading criticism about current cultural trends [e.g., steampunk] or any and every musical genre you can imagine. It's not as cynical as it may sound. Consider that even in the seemingly worst endeavors, 10% is pretty darn good and worthy of appreciation! We try to focus on that 10% around here. Your time is valuable. Being aware that 90% of everything isn't worthy of your attention is actually a very good thing.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Hollywood is getting steamy... but where's Baker Street?

io9 rates upcoming sci-fi flicks on their steampunkness. The film adaptation of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright sounds promising, but what I really want to see is Guy Davis and former Caliber Press head Gary Reed's* seminal yet tragically often overlooked Baker Street brought to life.

The unique thing about Baker Street, and why I connected with it [aside from Davis' distinctive and highly detailed art... he's like the goth Moebius...] is that it's about real punks, and delves deep into late 20th Century punk culture - despite being based on the work of Arthur Conan Doyle and set in a Victorian influenced alternate universe complete with transvestites and fantastic dirigibles...

It features an alternative Sherlock Holmes mythos where the values and class system of Victorian era England carried over into a late 20th Century where WWII never occurred. The story mainly concerns a group of punks attempting to solve a series of murders reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings of the late 19th century.

Baker Street was kind of like Love and Rockets meets The Difference Engine meets The Decline of Western Civilization meets The Hound of the Baskervilles, but wholly unique. Thinking about it, I'd be concerned about Hollywood getting its mitts on this. It was conceived at the height of goth/post-punk, and I'd be afraid about any director without roots in that time schlocking it up with contemporary references. I still think it would make a great movie, and it certainly deserves the recognition more than most comic books being made into films.

*Full disclosure: John Tenney and I met Davis and Reed at a comic convention about fifteen years ago. We were working on our first graphic novel, a four book series called Four Miles From Home. When we showed them the initial pages, they seemed so relieved that it had nothing to do with buff super heroes that they lit up. [John was reading a lot of Theodore Sturgeon and I was in a heavy Dave McKean/Ted McKeever phase at the time... er, never-mind... still am.] They were both incredibly cool to talk with and told us to get in touch with Caliber when we got it done. Unfortunately, I was starting my first "real" job and John had just opened his store Neo Tokyo, so we never got around to finishing the project. It's still on the to-do list though.

Friday, August 01, 2008

7 Deadly Glasses

[via NOTCOT]

seven deadly glasses

7 Deadly Glasses are the work of London-based designer Kacper Hamilton.

“Each glass encapsulates a sin, which is revealed through the ritual of drinking,” explains Hamilton. “The 7 Deadly Glasses are about celebrating passion and encouraging the user to be sinful in a theatrical fashion. The display case is a sarcophagus for the wine glasses, made using mahogany wood, brass fittings and a velvet fabric lining.”

These witty and gorgeously gothtastic chalices were recently exhibited at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design Degree Show. Central Saint Martins, aside from being a fantastic art and design school, is the alma mater of notable alumni such as Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Gilbert and George and vacuum cleaner tycoon James Dyson, but perhaps most relevant in this case: the English fashion world's enfant terrible and dark lord Alexander McQueen and The Horrors' gangly, preternatural vocalist Faris Badwan.

Must. Have.